“The hardest expression of love is forgiving a person who inflicted painfully deep wounds.” Dr. Guliuzza
In this life, those we love will hurt us. Emotional pain takes many forms; abandonment, betrayal, opposition, rejection, misunderstanding, resentment, harsh words, neglect, and even abuse.
Friends, parents, siblings, and family will mistreat us. No pain goes deeper than wounds given by those we love.
Is it possible to forgive these people? Can God heal us from the serious wrongdoings of others? Can we be free from hurt and live a life of joy?
Forgiveness is Essential to Freedom
Healing from mistreatment is essential to freedom and joy in Christ.
We cannot heal from past emotional pain until we forgive. Hurt haunts us as long as we remain in unforgiveness.
Abuse, resentment, sharp words, and neglect leave terrible scars that take time to heal. But, hope and victory are found in the Lord.
Why is forgiveness necessary?
Forgiveness clears the barrier between us and God. A relationship with God is vital to recovering from past hurt. Unforgiveness builds a wall and secludes us in our pain. We are responsible for our actions, including harbored resentment. Jesus tells us:
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14
Bondage to Pain
Does the past enslave you?
Reliving hurtful situations binds us to negative thought patterns. Christ doesn’t want us to be stuck in this painful cycle.
It is unhealthy to relive hurt over and over. We don’t have to wait for our offenders to apologize before we find freedom and healing.
God made our brains to protect us from danger and pain. Our brains create pathways to protect us from future hurt. The more we think about negative, fearful, or sinful situations, the stronger the pathway of fear and hurt becomes. Instead, God renews our minds.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Tim. 1:7
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3
Place your burdens on Jesus. He will take the heavy weight of your pain. Through Him we can have victory over any negative thought cycle.
Bitterness, resentment, mistrust, and expectations hinder relationships. But ultimately they put a strain on our relationship with God. When we are unwilling to forgive we create a wall between us and our Savior.
Living in a state of unforgiveness destroys our lives. It enslaves us in emotional pain, bitterness, misery, and hurt.
Forgiveness, grace, long-suffering and selfless Biblical love build relationships. These attributes reflect the forgiveness and mercy of our Redeemer. They build our relationship with Him because our mind is not weary with self-pity and hurt.
Forgiveness frees us from the past and begins our recovery from mistreatment.
Handling Painful Relationships
Some relationships grow closer by working through hardships. But not all: be discerning. Ask the Lord if the relationship will build you up and grow you in spiritual strength.
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:18-21
In the case of abandonment, honorable distance is perfectly acceptable. Treat these people with love, yet you are not obligated to pursue a close relationship.
When someone hurts us, physically, mentaly, verbally, or emotionally, it is not necessary to continue a close relationship, especially in the case of abuse.
In abusive situations it is vital to seek help. Remove yourself from danger. God doesn’t need you to stay in jeopardy. He is more than sufficient to redeem any abuser without our help.
A Woman Who Healed
She grew up broken. A dysfunctional relationship with her mother left a void that deeply affected her. For years, she could not forgive. She wanted her mother to recognize the wrong which had hurt her.
Finally she released her sorrow and disappointment to Christ. She chose to stop dwelling on the past and forgave the brokenness.
It still hurt that her mother didn’t acknowledge her pain. She accepted the unchanged relationship. Now she is free from her heavy burden.
She allowed Christ to bear her pain and heal her sorrow. She has healed.
The Sorrow of Abandonment
During a time of extreme suffering, my friends abandoned me. This hurt. But by God’s grace I have forgiven them. I am no longer close to them. But I have healed from the hurt they caused me.
How did I heal? How was I able to avoid harboring resentment toward those who abandoned me?
A Process to Heal from Hurt
- Recognize the sin of others against you. Allow yourself to acknowledge that what happened was not okay.
You are only responsible for your own sin and responses. You are not held accountable for others wrongdoing.
- Recognize the wrong you have done and make peace with those affected by your sin. Know that if you confess, Christ forgives.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
- Grieve the hurt, loss and pain. Spend time to understand your hurt, but don’t stay there.
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22
- Accept comfort. Release all your sorrows, hurts, and disappointments to Christ our Comforter.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
- Put off anger. Release bitterness to Christ.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32
- Release the pain and allow Christ to bear it. Imagine placing the burden of your hurt at Jesus feet, then leave it behind. You are free!
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
Author’s Note on Abuse
If you are stuck in an abusive relationship, seek help. Jesus came to set the captives free. “He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free” Luke 4:18 b
He never wants his precious children to remain in bondage to abusers. Whether the abuse is physical, verbal, or emotional, He hates evil. Seek Him and seek counsel from trusted Christians. You are not bound to anyone who tries to enslave you. Remove yourself from abuse and bring it to light. However don’t give up on praying for your offender. Jesus can restore even the worst of sinners.
The Wilting Rose Project is not certified for legal or council advice. We strongly encourage you reach out to a crisis helpline if you or someone you know is in danger of abuse. Please don’t hesitate. We have compiled these resources* to help you:
Spiritual Self Defense
Focus Ministries 1
Are You in an Abusive Relationship (Focus on the Family)
Domestic Violence Resources (Todays Christian Woman)
Domestic Violence Resources (Dove Christian CounsDeling)
Crisis Hotline (Stop It Now)
Child Help Hotline
Sexual Assault Hotline
*The Wilting Rose Project does not endorse one hundred percent of the content from crisis helplines. However, it is important to know there is always somewhere to go. We encourage anyone in any situation to first call a helpline, (or 9-1-1 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger) but to continue in the journey toward healing by pursuing Biblical counseling. There is no shame in admitting you need help. You are so brave to face this, and you are even more courageous when you can humbly reach out to trustworthy allies and counselors.
A daughter of the King, Gabriella loves to share the teaching that the Lord has given her through the joys and trials of her life. The desire of her heart is to grow her love, knowledge, and maturity for Christ and the truth found in His Word.